There’s no place like home

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Photo and Article Written by: Theo Tate 

December 19, 2019

SIUE assistant wrestling coach Ty Prazma had a large cheering section at the Cougar Clash on Dec. 7 at the First Community Arena.

The former Granite City wrestling standout had about 15 friends and family members attending the all-day tournament to watch him coach.

“Just being able to be around family all of the time and feeling like I’m still getting to not only chase my dream of coaching, but also spending time with the people I care about, has been a huge blessing,” Prazma said.

Prazma is in his first season on the SIUE coaching staff. He was hired as an assistant coach over the summer after spending three years at Northern Illinois University.

Prazma, a 2010 GCHS graduate, said he’s thrilled to return to the Metro East.

“I’m loving it,” he said. “I got some advice whenever I was younger and first getting into coaching. One of my mentors told me that it’s not every time that you get to make a move that progresses your career, but it’s also good for your family, and I’ve been lucky enough to do that twice now. But this one is a real ideal situation knowing that I’m 10 minutes away from home.”

Prazma is part of a coaching staff that includes head coach Jeremy Spates and assistant Barlow McGhee. Prazma said he heard about the assistant coaching opening from Spates, who has been heading the Cougars since 2013.

“Coach Spates and I both help out in Fargo in the big (high school) national tournament over the summer,” Prazma said. “I knew he had an opening and we talked about it just a little bit. He asked me to apply and I was lucky and fortunate enough to get the position.”

Prazma said one of his goals is to help SIUE become a successful program. The Cougars have a combined 17 freshmen and sophomores on their roster.

“We’re definitely young,” Prazma said. “With that comes a little bit of inexperience, so we’ve got a lot of guys that have a lot of potential and a lot of room to grow. This is a good thing, but we have to work on our part to get them there. They’re a young talented group that loves getting into the room and getting after all of the work we throw at them.”

After graduating from GCHS in 2010, Prazma went to Missouri and wrestled with the Tigers all four years. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2014 and a master’s the next year.

“I loved it,” Prazma said. “I didn’t achieve everything I wanted to in my career, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Prazma started his wrestling coaching career at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va., in the 2015-16 season. The next year, he headed back to Illinois in 2016 to take the assistant coaching job at Northern Illinois. He was hired as SIUE assistant in August. 

Prazma said his high school coach, Allen Kirgan, and college coach, Brian Smith, were huge influences in him getting into the coaching profession.

“That was a big driving force in why I felt that coaching was going to be my path,” he said. “It’s really nice to be back in the wrestling community that gave me so much. Now, I’m just trying to return the favor.” 

High school highlights

Finished with 140 victories in his four-year career

Captured regional championships in his freshman (112), sophomore (130) and senior (152) seasons

Competed at the state tournament in his sophomore and senior seasons

Helped the Warriors qualify for the Class AA dual team state tournament in his sophomore year

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